NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 24:  U.S. President Barack Obama speaks at the 69th United Nations General Assembly at United Nations Headquarters on September 24, 2014 in New York City. The annual event brings political leaders from around the globe together to report on issues meet and look for solutions. This year's General Assembly has highlighted the problem of global warming and how countries need to strive to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

Environmental and Social Sustainability in the UN System (ESS)

Environmental and Social Sustainability (ESS) is the adaption and integration of precautionary environmental and social principles and considerations into decision making processes. As part of the United Nations’ commitment to support nationally-owned sustainable development results, UN entities across the system are committed to internalizing the principles they stand for – leading by example and maintaining credibility as a partner in sustainable development. A key element of this is enhancing the environmental and social sustainability of the UN’s activities.

The UN Sustainability Strategy 2020-2030

In September 2018, the EMG’s Senior Officials endorsed the preparation of a UN internal sustainability strategy, looking beyond 2020.

The EMG and Sustainable UN (SUN) team formed a Task Team to develop a UN Sustainability Strategy towards 2030. In 2019, the Strategy for Sustainability Management in the United Nations System, 2020–2030 – Phase I: Environmental sustainability in the area of management was endorsed by the Chief Executive Board (CEB).

Then, in 2021, the Strategy for Sustainability Management in the United Nations System, 2020-2030 – Phase II: Towards leadership in environmental and social sustainability was endorsed by the EMG Senior Officials, the UN High Level Committee on Programmes (HLCP), the UN High Level Committee on Management (HLCM) and the CEB.

The Sustainability Strategy II aims to mainstream fundamental environmental and social sustainability principles into every aspect of the UN system, from ensuring that management functions, programmes, and partnerships respect sustainability principles to joint reporting on the sustainability of the UN system.